Public Works Minister Vikramaditya Singh and Chief Parliamentary Secretary Sunder Singh Thakur issued a joint statement criticizing the former Chief Minister, Jai Ram Thakur, for his handling of National Highways projects in the state. They highlighted (Scathing Critique) his lack of inspections, delayed completion, and negligence towards compensation cases. This statement comes as Jai Ram Thakur conducts inspections of the Kiratpur-Nerchowk four-lane project, raising eyebrows among the officials.
Negligence towards National Highways Projects:
During his tenure, Jai Ram Thakur failed to conduct inspections or prioritize the early completion of National Highways projects. The compensation cases for displaced individuals were also ignored, despite the Central Government allocating 67,000 crore rupees for 68 National Highways in the state. The former Chief Minister’s lack of involvement and failure to visit project sites raised concerns about his commitment to infrastructure development.
False Promises and Slow Progress:
The BJP, while in power, made promises to farmers and those affected by land acquisition, including four times compensation. However, these promises remained unfulfilled, and progress on the road projects was sluggish. The BJP’s inability to implement the compensation formula and provide rehabilitation benefits left many landowners dissatisfied. Even during the 2017 assembly election, the Union Home Minister assured people in Mandi of four times compensation, but these assurances proved empty.
Efforts of Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu:
In contrast, Chief Minister Thakur Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu ensured prompt compensation disbursement to the affected individuals. Within 15 days of reviewing the pending cases, approximately 1200 crore rupees were distributed as compensation. Chief Minister Sukhu’s proactive approach highlighted his commitment to addressing the concerns of the displaced population. Role of Union Minister Kamal Nath: It is worth mentioning that it was Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways Kamal Nath who initially agreed to the four-laning of the Kiratpur-Manali project. He conducted feasibility studies and made provisions for funds, laying the groundwork for the project’s future development.
The Dilatory BJP Era:
During the BJP’s tenure, Detailed Project Reports (DPRs) remained stagnant, causing delays in infrastructure projects. In contrast, Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu prioritized the completion of DPRs, leading to progress. The NHAI also recognized his efforts, agreeing in principle to the construction of a four-lane road project from Shimla to Matour and the four-laning of the Pathankot to Mandi road, with significant budget allocations. Chief Minister’s Efforts for Project Expedited: Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu personally engaged with the Prime Minister and the Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways, urging them to expedite ongoing central road projects in the state. His persistence in seeking progress demonstrated his commitment to advancing infrastructure development for the benefit of the people.
BJP’s Political Motives:
The State BJP leaders, including Jai Ram Thakur, attempted to claim credit for the four-lane projects as they geared up for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. However, the people of the state remained aware of their strategies and perceived the BJP’s actions as a mere attempt to gain popularity through opportunistic tactics.